When I started this post, I thought it was heading in one direction, but it quickly turned into something else. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks. It’s a little heavy, and it came out all in a rush. But I just needed to write it. Maybe you needed to hear it? Either way, it’s a testament to God’s unfailing love.
There is one certain book on my bookshelf that always, without fail, makes me catch my breath when I see it.
A little over a month after my husband and I got married, something happened that shook our world. It was one of the hardest things we have ever been through. I know it’s annoying to be so vague, but this is, after all, the internet. Thumbs up for privacy!
Timothy and I only had around a month of that “newlywed” stage before life hit, hard. We were blindsided and found ourselves scrambling for how to be married when life was just so difficult. My Dad is our pastor, and he and my mom really helped us make sense of things. At one point, he told Timothy and I that if we could overcome what we were going through, if we could use this opportunity to grow, then we would be at a point in our marriage years ahead of where we should be. That the lessons we were learning now, as a one-month-old married couple, most couples didn’t learn until years down the road.
Now I can see that he was right, but at the time I could have cared less. I didn’t want to be “wise” in our marriage at that point – I wanted the rosey glowy honeymoon stage. Not the hard part.
There were weeks and weeks that it felt like all we were doing was hurting and disagreeing and struggling. Marriage felt like hanging onto the side of a giant mountain with no footholds. We were clawing at it, scraping our hands and feet, simply trying to survive. With no years of marriage experience under our belt, we didn’t know how to unite together and face the problem. We were hurting and we blamed each other. We blamed ourselves, we blamed the devil, we blamed the world. It was just hard.
We knew we were in God’s will. We knew we loved each other. We knew this was right. But we felt so broken.
One night we were headed to Wal-Mart together to pick up some things and got into an argument. I don’t even remember what it was over, but I’m sure it was something minuscule. Our hearts felt so raw, and we were just done. We were tired of struggling. We were ready for the daylight. We walked into Wal-Mart and ended up in the book section. Right in front of us, lined up like hope personified, was several copies of this book.
Love and War.
We grabbed it and put it in the cart, even though we didn’t have the extra money to really afford it. We were so desperate. So willing for anything to work.
Now, it would be a tidy way to end the story if I could say that this book changed our lives, but it didn’t. I’m sure it’s a good book, and I’ve been meaning to reread it because I don’t remember anything in it. But this book didn’t fix our problem.
It took weeks and months and even years of praying, fasting, praying, trying, praying, loving, and more praying. I honestly can’t pinpoint a moment that it got better. It just happened. We worked through that problem that shook our world. We learned how to lean on each other, how to trust in God. That time of desperation didn’t last long. Not even a year. Yet, we are still faced with the ramifications of that event to this day. There are still sore wounds, but God is my Healer. He’s my husband’s Healer. He has taught us how to live through disappointment, how to abound in struggles. He has healed and is continuing to heal our hurts every day. He has placed within us a joy that just can’t be silenced or subdued.
Now we rest in our marriage. We rest in the fact that it’s not going anywhere. We rest in the great love that God has shown us and that God has designed for us to have in our marriage. That love has been what has kept us together. Not just the butterfly-in-your-stomach love (although we still have that!), but the love that reaches beyond pain, hurt, and doubt and brings you together regardless of how many odds are against you.
I don’t take that for granted.
Every time I see this book on our bookshelf, those feelings come rushing back. That desperation to survive. That bittersweet mix of confusion and hurt and hope and faith all bundled together. I wouldn’t trade that time of pain for all the pleasure in the world. That desperation taught us how to be married. That desperation gave us such a clear picture of God in our lives.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis
Whether it be disease, a thorn in the flesh, infertility, the loss of a family, or slavery, the Bible is full of stories where God used a trial to bring victory. You don’t take joy for granted when you have waded through depression to fight for it. You don’t take peace for granted when you have battled with fear.
Going through something hard doesn’t mean that God has left you alone. It doesn’t mean that He loves you any less. No, not at all. It is His way of catapulting you further into His will. It is His way of trying you by fire so you can come out gold. It is His way of bringing to light those bits of fear, greed, doubt, and selfishness that have no place in a child of God. It is His way of showing you that He loves you with a fierce, powerful love.
Thank You, Almighty God, for the desperation. And for the unspeakable joy that is always soon to follow.
Ask anyone what their favorite moment in a wedding is and 90% will tell you when the groom sees the bride for the first time. Okay, I completely made that statistic up, but it seems pretty accurate.
The other day I stumbled upon this post full of pictures of that best moment. I kept the tab open in my browser for two days, just so I could look at it. I love love. It’s the best.
I mean, look at those guys. Some are crying, some are laughing, all are so happy. This is her! This is the one I’m marrying! This is happening! I love all the emotions and feelings these pictures convey.
When we got married, this was a crucial moment for me. I wanted it to be special for us, like every bride does. So we did a first look. Most of these pictures above are from a first look. It’s just a special moment, before the ceremony, that the bride and groom can meet and see each other for the first time before the big day. It has a lot of practical positives. After Timothy and I saw each other, we then proceeded to take most of our wedding pictures before the wedding. By the time all our guests got situated in the reception hall, we were ready to go party afterwards. It eased a lot of potential stress, and was just plain fun.
The pictures our photographer took of our first look are some of my favorites.
Oh my, I get sappy just looking at these pictures. How blessed am I? I spent months planning every moment of that day, finding my dress, making my veil and bouquet, planning how I would do my hair. I wanted it all to be perfect for the day I became a Mrs. But that look Timothy gave me? I’m pretty sure none of that mattered to him. He’s in love. I’m in love. Oh, I love love.
For those of you who may not have found “the one” yet, I just want to encourage you that it is all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t rush it. Don’t try to make something happen when it’s not God will or timing. Just immerse yourself in His plan for your life. Good things will happen. And you’ll find the right one. The one who will look at you on your wedding day like you’re more priceless than rubies. The love you find will be all the more sweet for the time you spent preparing yourself and waiting for it.
And for those of you that have found “the one,” do you remember this moment in your own wedding? What was it like? Does it still give you butterflies to think about? Please, let’s get sappy.
She: My face is doing something weird! Does it look super red to you?
He: Hmmm. I don’t see anything red. I see your bags under your eyes though.
So um yeah, that just happened. I was too tickled to even get mad.
I gave him my best “how dare you” face in between my bouts of giggling. ”What? You’ve been saying you were tired! Wait, was it bad that I said that?”
Haha! I sure love that boy.
(blurry phone pics are the best when driving with the windows down)
The other day Timothy and I were talking about how our arguments have evolved over the past few years. We’re learning what’s worth discussing and what’s worth just accepting and getting over. We were about to get all gushy when this happened:
“You sure are a lot less picky than you were when we first got married.”
“Well you’re not nearly as dumb as you used to be.”
Nearly three years of marriage and we’re already pros at complimenting each other. Ha! I’ll let you take your guess on who said what.
Marriage sure brings out the best in people.
Every Saturday at the Gothra home is Date Day. It’s the only day of the week that we can (usually) do whatever we want together. We never do the same thing twice on a Saturday, we always eat delicious food, and we never spend very much money. The cheaper the better. Oh glorious Date Day, how I love you.
Timothy teases me because every Saturday I wake up and say “do you think we’ll have fun today?” In our relationship, I’m the planner and the worrier. Timothy is the spontaneous one. And fun just seems to follow him around.
Like this past Saturday? We laughed until our bellies ached. And the fun just fell in our laps. Boom.
We slept in and then went to town to get our dry cleaning. While at the cleaners, the weird old lady owner with the painted on eyebrows tried to hurry us out the door so she could go to the car show. Car show? Count Timothy in. And me too, I guess. Ha!
It turned out to be a HUGE vintage car show. People come from far and wide just to see it. I don’t even care about cars and I had a great time.
This was by far my favorite car. I just wanted to put it in my pocket! But do you see the guy in the socks and shorts in the background? He was the owner.
He spent at least seven minutes talking to Timothy about the car and showing him ever nook and cranny. When Timothy asked him how much the car was worth, the guy was all, “Well, the real ones are valued at [insert outrageous price here], but this is a reproduction. It’s worth [insert very normal car price here].”
It was like the fool’s gold car.
While looking at the cars, we passed a little Mexican market. We went inside on a whim and immediately the owner rattled off this long string of Spanish. Timothy sighed and just said “I don’t speak Spanish.”
See, this happens all the time. Timothy is Indian, but anytime someone from Mexico sees him, he automatically assumes that Timothy is Mexican. One time we were in the mall and this Mexican man started arguing with Timothy because he couldn’t believe that Timothy was from India. Funny stuff.
So Timothy just kept repeating “I don’t speak Spanish” to this market owner and the market owner kept repeating “Como estas?” endlessly. I felt like I was watching a tennis match of words. I finally just stepped in front of Timothy and said “bien!” and the owner sighed, smiled, and said “si! si! You speak Spanish.” Ha!
The owner showed us around and then helped us pick out some Mexican drinks. I had (non-alcoholic) Sangria and Timothy had some kind of apple drink with “gas.” We’re hoping that gas meant carbonation.
As we were leaving the store, the owner launched into this long monologue about how Timothy needed to visit India again. He told us that India was full of knowledge, culture and history. When we asked him if he had ever been to India himself, he replied, “No, but I watch the travel channel.” Nice.
After the car show and the Mexican encounter, Timothy and I just drove around. We got very lost in the country, we talked about what our dream house would look like, and drove home in the moonlight listening to jazz.
I love Date Day.
I'm honored that you took time to stop by my blog! My name is Whitney, and I'm a diy loving, piano playing, sewing obsessed, thrifty, non-house cleaning, crafty newlywed. I love God, my husband, and life as a wife. If you'd like to know more, just check out my About Me page. Much love!
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